Remembering New Zealand rally icon Possum Bourne

Ten years today (30 April) since the passing of Possum Bourne his influence is still a pillar of the very sport he was so passionate about, remembers Rally New Zealand.

Peter (PJ) Johnston, Rally of New Zealand board chairman today acknowledged the character and memory of Peter ‘Possum’ Bourne and how it took both New Zealand and rally as a sport to the world: “Possum was our rally hero and inspired so many – a genuine son of New Zealand is how I’d describe Possum. His effect, influence and ability were quality characteristics that have lived long past that date ten years ago today he succumbed to injuries from an accident you could never expect to occur.

“I’m sure like so many he influenced and inspired, we remember that time we learned of his passing – a seemingly short ten years ago,” said Johnston. “Possum and his wife Peggy were the ultimate ambassadors for our sport and our then annual Rally New Zealand round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Even in their factory-backed cars the world’s best took the challenge very seriously at wanting to beat such an accomplished and capable competitor at his home event. Regardless of the outcome Possum was always everyone’s friend.

“While his dream was cut short, his memory lives on and we’re thrilled his sons are growing up with every bit of his character,” continued Johnston. “We look forward to the family’s involvement in this year’s tenth anniversary Possum Bourne Memorial Rally – sponsored by Vantage.”

Being held on Saturday 7 September the one day event uses roads in the Franklin and Pukekohe districts – where Possum spent much of his early years.

“Gravel stages are planned to incorporate some of the iconic Rally New Zealand WRC stages in the Te Akau North area and then onto the iconic Maramarua Forest where Possum started his rally career,” continued Johnston.

The last third of the rally will be tarmac with the final ‘super’ and ‘power’ stages being at the Pukekohe Park Raceway. The post event function and prize giving will be held onsite at the raceway to toast Possum and ensure his passion lives on.

Earlier this year Bourne was inducted to the inaugural Australian Rally Hall of Fame, ten years since his inaugural induction to the MotorSport New Zealand Wall of Fame.

View iRally’s video tribute to Possum here:

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MINI and Prodrive want in on the Rallycross action

Prodrive has begun building the first MINI John Cooper Works RX which will compete in the X Games and Global Rallycross championship with Britain’s leading rallycrosser, Liam Doran.

Doran’s first outing with the Monster-backed MINI RX will be at the X Games in Barcelona on 18 – 19 May, followed by Munich in June, before the team heads to the USA for the Global Rallycross Championship and the Los Angeles X Games. In 2011, Doran secured a Gold medal in X Games 17 beating former World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm.

The MINI RX is closely based on the MINI John Cooper Works World Rally Car, but is being modified to make it competitive for Rallycross. In the first phase of development, the car’s 1.6-litre turbo engine will be remapped to run with the regulation 45mm restrictor (33mm on the WRC). This, combined with a larger intercooler and extra turbo boost, will increase power by 20 percent without any mechanical changes to the engine. A second development phase will bring a further 15 – 20 percent increase in power.

As the MINI RX will run with a 1600cc engine, it will benefit from a 90kg weight advantage over the two-litre cars. This means the car’s minimum weight with driver is 1,210kg compared to around 1,350kg for the MINI WRC with its two drivers. As a result, the MINI is being stripped of all the equipment and ancillaries required for rallying, such as the co-driver’s seat and instrumentation, tools, spare wheel, heater and protective undertrays. Lightweight bodywork is also allowed in Rallycross and Prodrive will introduce carbon fibre panels in phase two of the car’s development. The last major modification is to move the radiator to the inside rear of the car, as it is susceptible to damage at the front, with ventilation panels built into the rear doors.

“Having run the MINI non-competitively at the recent British Rallycross event at Lydden Hill at the new weight but with the WRC engine, we know it is already not that far off the pace of the Rallycross entries,” said Paul Eastman, Prodrive’s head of rally engineering. “With the initial extra power it should be a match for the two-litre cars on the short stadium tracks for the X Games in Barcelona and Munich and then there is more to come in time for the longer US events.”

The MINI’s strength is in its chassis and the fact it is the only Rallycross car to be evolved from a fully-engineered WRC.

Doran said: “When I drove the MINI WRC at Lydden you could immediately feel how good the chassis was, and while clearly it didn’t have the power I am used to, you could see that with some engine mods it would make a great Rallycross car. It will be great to be the first person to drive a properly works-engineered MINI RX and I think as such an iconic global brand, it will very quickly become a favourite of the fans on both sides on the Atlantic.”

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This is how to draw a crowd to your rally!

How do you draw attention to an upcoming motorsport event in your city? Do as the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team do in the heart of Cordoba, Argentina… The tens of thousands of people lining the walls to catch a glimpse of the nine-time World Rally Champions playing in a storm drain is fantastic to witness.

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2013 BRC will be best five from six

Following last week’s announcement that Rally North Wales will not run in 2013, organiser’s of the MSA British Rally Championship and the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge have confirmed that they will not seek to replace the event and the series will be decided on the six remaining rallies.

Mark Taylor, Manager, MSA British Rally Championship, said: “It was always going to be difficult for such a well supported rally, hosting four major championships, to find a replacement date at relatively short notice. It’s a real shame the rally won’t run this year, as it is one of the more popular events in the rally calendar.

“It’s also a blow to the organising team, who have worked tirelessly over the past nine months preparing for the event. To find an alternative date at this stage would have been an almost impossible task; rather than go off half-cocked, I think this is a good decision. I have spoken to the organising team and have assured them that Rally North Wales will be a counting round of the 2014 BRC and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the club in preparing for next season.”

The new opening round in the 2013 BRC calendar, the Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally has confirmed that the recent change in weather, which forced Rally North Wales’ original postponement, means that the Kielder stages are in pristine condition for the event in two weeks time.

For more information on the MSA British Rally Championship visit

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Your FREE insight into the world of rally, part 278!

Welcome to issue 278 of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, your favourite free source of rally entertainment!

To download this week’s issue, please click here:

For ANY back issues, please send a request to and we will gladly send you the PDF files.

As always, please enjoy this week’s read!

Yours in Rallying,

Evan Rothman (Editor) and Eva Kovkova (Photojournalist)

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Reaching for the clouds with one horsepower per kilogram!

Peugeot Sport has pulled no punches in its bid to provide Sébastien Loeb with a singularly awesome machine for the 2013 Pike Peak Hill Climb (30 June). The 208 T16 Pikes Peak in which the driver who has dominated world class rallying for the past decade will attempt to become the ‘King of The Peak’ boasts a power output of 875 horsepower, tips the scales at just 875kg, and benefits from all-wheel drive, plus a spectacular aerodynamic package.

The mission of any race car designer is to juggle with the restrictions and constraints dictated by the regulations in areas like height, the forms of the body, the size and location of the powerplant, etc. It’s a stimulating challenge, of course, yet it can also be highly frustrating at times. Deep down, engineers have just one desire, to sweep the table clear of the rule books and design the ultimate, no-holds-barred machine with just one objective in mind: the quest for absolute performance.

The Pikes Peak Hill Climb is the only race in the world that permits the fantasy of freeing the beast that lurks at the back of every engineer’s mind to become reality! The very mention of the event and its celebrated ‘Unlimited’ class is enough to bring a twinkle to the eyes of any designer. “Your imagination is the only limit when you set out to design a car for Pikes Peak,” grins Jean-Christophe Pallier, the Peugeot Sport engineer tasked with the 208 T16 Pikes Peak project. “Designing this car was a tremendously rewarding experience, even though we still had to take the ‘time’ factor into account…”

The giddy altitudes visited by the Colorado hill climb present a unique technical challenge: that of ensuring the engines are able to breathe as freely as possible in the rarefied air… “In the case of a normally-aspirated engine, you basically lose one percent of the available power every 100 metres you climb,” notes Peugeot Sport Director Bruno Famin. This is a fundamental parameter that has to be taken into account for this race which starts at an altitude of 2,865 metres and finishes at 4,301 metres! By the time they reach the start line, certain engines automatically shed some 30 percent of their potential. A powerful engine is consequently essential because there can be no question of Sébastien Loeb lacking power on the day.


Peugeot Sport’s answer is a derivative of the bi-turbo V6 which was designed for endurance racing. With this 875-horsepower powerplant under the bonnet, the 208 T16 Pikes Peak will boast even more power than a Formula 1 single-seater! It goes without saying that it will be the most powerful car ever driven by world rallying’s multiple champion. This will be motorsport in the extreme, especially since the guard rails that are a hallmark of traditional circuits make way for steep drops in the case of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb…

In its bid to reach out to the clouds, Peugeot Sport has also paid careful attention to providing Sébastien Loeb with a particularly lightweight car. “We’ve shaved it down to 875kg,” observes Jean-Christophe Pallier. “As a result, we have achieved the magic and symbolic power-to-weight ratio of 1:1!” Meanwhile, to be sure that the car’s handling is as agile as possible, the weight distribution of the tubular-framed machine has been meticulously fine-tuned, with the engine sitting in a mid-rear position, like the famous Group B rally cars of the 1980s and like endurance racing prototypes.

The 208 T16 Pikes Peak effectively shares its genes with those of the Le Mans 24 Hours-winning 908 in several areas. Indeed, last year’s Pikes Peak took place for the first time on an entirely asphalted course, so the machine conceived by Peugeot Sport is practically an out-and-out endurance racing prototype. Common areas include the running gear, brakes and aerodynamic features like the air-intake and the spectacular two-metre wide rear wing which was originally used for the first-generation 908 HDi FAP. Unfortunately, there weren’t any wider options in stock!


Also like that of a Le Mans car, the 208’s aerodynamic package has been meticulously honed. “We believe efficient aerodynamics can give us a competitive edge over our rivals,” notes Jean-Christophe Pallier. “The speeds reached during the ascension range from 50 to 240kph, and aerodynamics play a key role from 100kph.” The 208 T16 Pikes Peak’s hallmark rear wing and front splitter are not only extremely spectacular, but they are also awesomely efficient, in addition to bestowing the car with a truly beast-like stance. Meanwhile, although invisible, the design of the car’s under-tray is responsible for generating almost half the car’s downforce…

Last but by no means least, the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak sits on bespoke Michelin tyres which provide the four driven wheels with invaluable grip. To tackle the 156 turns that stand between Sébastien Loeb and the Colorado clouds, the most successful driver in rallying history will most definitely benefit from one of the most potent purpose-engineered cars ever designed for motorsport!

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SA champions Cronje and Houghton win Sasol Rally for second successive year

The Cronje/Houghton/Ford rally roadshow rolled on relentlessly in Mpumalanga this weekend as reigning SA champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton brought their four-wheel drive S2000 Ford Dealer Team Fiesta home in first place in an extremely wet and muddy Sasol Rally for the second year in succession. In the process the pair increased their lead in the 2013 championship after their victory in the season-opening Total Rally in KwaZulu-Natal in March.

Second after 13 special stages on Friday and Saturday in the Sabie, Graskop, White River and Nelspruit areas (two gravel stages were cancelled because of the bad weather) British former World Rally Championship contenders, Matthew Wilson and Chris Patterson, who revelled in the rain and mist that challenged the 44-car field throughout the rally. Driving a second Ford Dealer team Fiesta borrowed from Cronje, Wilson, from England, and Northern Ireland’s Patterson had led the rally from Cronje and Houghton after Friday’s five gravel and two tarmac stages, all of which were won by the two Fords.

Cronje and Houghton added five stage wins on Saturday to the four they accumulated on Friday on their way to a 1 min 11 sec victory over Wilson and Patterson. Third, a further 1 min 15 sec back, were Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee, who gave the brand new Castrol Team Toyota Yaris its first podium finish in only its second rally.


Henk Lategan and co-driver Barry White were fourth in a Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo, arriving at the final control in the Lowveld Showgrounds in Nelspruit on Saturday afternoon 2 min 26 sec behind the winners. The 18-year-old Lategan, one of the rising stars of SA rallying, scored his first stage win in the premier class with victory in the last of the day’s gravel stages.

Fifth were Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan in a second Castrol Toyota Yaris, who had lost a lot of time on Friday after hitting a tree stump and damaging their radiator. Some consolation was winning the first gravel stage on Saturday.


Making up the top 10 were Jan Habig and Robert Paisley (Basil Read Ford Fiesta) in sixth place, Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin in the leading S2000 Challenge VW Sasolracing Polo, Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Hilton Auffray (S2000 Challenge Team Total Toyota Auris), Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries (S2000 VW Sasolracing Polo) and Japie van Niekerk/Gerhard Snyman (S2000 Challenge New Africa Developments VW Polo), who won the final stage of the rally in Nelspruit.

Winners of the two-wheel drive S1600 class were Clint Weston and Christoff Snyders (Reef Tankers Citroen C2 R2B), who finished 12th overall and just 29 seconds ahead of current class leaders Namibian Thilo Himmel and South African co-driver Armand du Toit in a Toyota Etios. Third were former circuit racer Chad van Beurden and Henry Dearlove (Beurden Construction VW Polo) ahead of Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk van Heerden (Fragram Tools Toyota RunX) and Megan and brother Oliver Verlaque (VW Polo).

Ashley Haigh-Smith and Craig Parry (Castrol Ford Fiesta R2B) had led the class at the end of the first day only to fall back to sixth with two stages remaining after experiencing problems.


The Sasol Rally was also the second round of the FIA African Rally Championship, which attracted three entries from outside South Africa. Current ARC champions Mohammed Essa of Zambia and Greg Stead of Zimbabwe (N4 Subaru Impreza WRX) retired after an oil pipe broke just five kilometres into the first special stage and drained the engine of all its oil.

Jassey Singh and Dave Sihoka of Zambia (N4 Subaru Impreza WRX) and Giancarlo Davite and Sylvia Windevogel of Ruwanda (N4 Mitsubishi Evo 10) struggled in the unfamiliar misty conditions and finished 15thand 21stoverall respectively.

The next round of the championship is the Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally on 31 May – 1 June.

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